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Powertec Workbench Review

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Powertec Workbench
Powertec Workbench

If you have a game room, at some point you’re probably need to work out as well.  I’ve reserved a small corner in my basement exclusively for an elliptical machine, a treadmill, and a Powertec Workbench weight machine.  This review will cover my experience with the machine after using it for the past year.

Powertec Workbench Assembly

HEAVY.   I bought mine initially off craigslist on a whim, basically because I was looking for a weight machine I could use at home and this looked like a quality product.  When I went to pick it up, I was blown away at how good the quality was on it, it was way beyond anything else I’ve seen for home use.  It’s also available from Amazon through my affiliate link here:

Powertec Fitness Lever Gym Work Bench

Taking it apart and putting it in my minivan took a while.  It’s not hard to assemble or disassemble, but the pieces are heavy and sometimes awkward.  I think in total it weighs like 290 pounds, but with additional weight plates and other things I got with the purchase I probably loaded up 600 pounds into my minivan.

When I got it home, assembling it wasn’t too bad.  I put a rubber mat underneath it to protect the carpet, since it has so much weight I though it would probably mat down the carpet pretty good.

Powertec Workbench bottom
Powertec Workbench bottom

Initial Impressions

Once I got it assembled, it was time to try it out.  The were multiple reasons I liked the Powertec workbench over all the plate options on the market.  Those were:

  1. It used standard bar weights, so you could add way more weight to it than a standard pulley/plate system.  That to me is the biggest drawback of the pulley/plate things that are sold, if you are moderately strong you can never get enough weight for them.
  2. It had everything built in for a complete arms and legs workout.  Most pulley/plate home options are pretty limited with what you can do.  The Powertec had way more options than those.
  3. It’s big enough for a big person.  Some home machines are made for someone short or super skinny, this machine fit me really well (I’m 6’4″, 180 pounds).

Why would I want this over free weights?  The biggest thing for me is that I didn’t need a spotter.  I don’t have a lifting partner or anything, so being able to lift while having safety in place is priority #1 for me.  I’ve tried dumbbells but for me they’re just not great due to my lower back pain that flares up sometimes (dumbbells seem to aggravate my lower back for me, probably because of some kind of form deficiency on my part).

Powertec Workbench Top
Powertec Workbench Top

Space requirements

One downside of the Powertec Workbench is that it does take a decent amount of space.  Basically, you’re going to need at least 6′ by 8′ to fit it into your workout area.  I’ve fit it, a treadmill, and an elliptical all into a 12 by 12 room with plenty of room in front of the machines for a rubber mat.  The hardest part in this smaller area is adding and removing weights, it’s definitely more challenging than the pulley/plate system to add and remove weight.

I bought enough weights so I could leave them on the posts in between workouts so I didn’t have to move 45 pound plates in between the bench press and lat pull down bar.   When doing the pull downs from the upper pulley you have to make sure that you have enough clearance in the rear as the back swings out with the weights on it.

Powertec Workbench bench
Powertec Workbench bench

Storing Weights

The Powertec has two side posts in order to store weights on.  In theory that sounds good but in practice it could be better.  The main problem is that there are too many different weight sizes for 2 posts to be effective.  When you have 10’s, 25’s, 45’s, etc you end up removing and adding plates to the storage too often.  If there were 4 different posts instead of two it would be a lot handier.  In order to get around the problem, I bought this:

CAP Barbell 2 in. Plate Rack
CAP Barbell 2 in. Plate Rack

It’s available from my Amazon affiliate link here:

CAP Barbell 2 in. Plate Rack

It works really well for handling all the weights without having to throw them on the floor.  It’s made things a lot more organized in my workout area.  In fact I also bought a dumbbell organizer as well, this one:

Marcy 3-Tier Dumbbell Rack Multilevel Weight Storage Organizer for Home Gym
Marcy 3-Tier Dumbbell Rack Multilevel Weight Storage Organizer for Home Gym

I got it from Amazon.  It’s available through my affiliate link here:

Marcy 3-Tier Dumbbell Rack Multilevel Weight Storage Organizer for Home Gym

The combo of the two has made my area a lot better.

Accessories

The Powertec Workbench comes with a ton of accessories, way more than most people will actually use unless you’re a really serious weightlifter.  Things like ropes, smaller bars, etc will all need to be stored somewhere else unless you’re planning on using them all the time.  I’ve actually stored most of my accessories under my pinball machines since they do take a considerable amount of space.  Just something to consider when buying this, you’ll need a wall rack or closet space for all the extras probably.

Conclusion

I’ve loved the Powertec Workbench since I bought it a while back.  It’s the perfect weight machine for the person that maxes out the smaller pulley/plate machines and who works out by themselves.  I like turning on a good show on Netflix or Amazon Prime and then doing my lifting for the day.

Hopefully this review has helped you make a decision on this.  I bought mine used, but after having used it for a while I’d totally pay full price for the thing new.  I haven’t really seen anything else quite like it on the market, I’m not really sure why more places don’t make home machines that can hold a huge amount of weight.

 

Best Selling Pinball Machines of All Time

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Best Selling Pinball Machines Of All Time
Best Selling Pinball Machines Of All Time

Some of the answers in the upcoming list might surprise you.  If you’re thinking that surely Lord of the Rings or any game in the last 20 years produced a ton, you’d be wrong.  The best selling pinball machines of all time mostly come from a 20 year period from 1975 to 1995, where pinball saw a boom, a bust, another boom, and then another bust.  Boom periods are what drive lots of companies to start making games, and the bust periods are the ones that drive them out of business.

Best Selling Pinball Machines of All Time List

Without further adieu, here is the list:

  1. Addams Family (20,270 produced plus 1000 gold editions later on, 1992)
  2. Eight Ball (20,230 produced, 1977)
  3. Flash (19,505 produced, 1979)
  4. Playboy (18,250 produced, 1978)
  5. Firepower (17,410 produced, 1980)
  6. High Speed (17,080 produced, 1986)
  7. KISS (17,000 produced, 1979)
  8. Star Trek (16,842 produced, 1979)
  9. Mata Hari (16,260 produced, 1978)
  10. Capt. Fantastic and the Dirt Brown Cowboy (16,155 produced, 1976)
  11. Twilight Zone (15,235 produced, 1993)
  12. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (15,202 produced, 1991)

This is a list of all the games where production exceeded 15,000 machines.  For a long time, Eight Ball was the champ as far as games produced, until The Addams Family came along and knocked it off in the early 90’s boom.  You can see that the majority of these games came out in late 70’s when pinball converted from EM (games with moving scoring reels) to solid state (games with digital displays).  The digital displays (plus advent of giant arcades) drove pinball sales to numbers way beyond anything before for individual machines.

Only three games, Addams Family, Twilight Zone, and Terminator 2 are games that feature a more modern DMD display.  And no game made after Twilight Zone has made more than 15,000 and it’s not likely that will change anytime soon.

Additional Info

Hopefully this list has helped you out.  If you want more information on pinball machines, I would go to:

The Internet Pinball Machine Database

That place is a gold mine for information on individual machines.  One thing it doesn’t have is prices though, for that I would try my ebay affiliate here (since they don’t sell it on Amazon currently for some reason):

Mr Pinball Price Guide

That has a list of all the current prices for machines.  Now it doesn’t take into account condition, so that can influence the price quite a bit in some situations, but it’s a starting point.  It’s kind of like classic cars, a 65 mustang might be worth 10k in normal condition, 60k as a restomod, or $100 sitting rusting in the weeds.  Pinball machines are kind of the same way.

Best Home Theater Screens

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Silver Ticket Products STR-169120
Silver Ticket Products STR-169120

When building your home theater, one of the issues that comes up when finding a projector screen is “which one to buy”?  Or should I even buy a screen at all and just paint a wall instead?  I’ve done the painted wall, the painted canvas, and a store bought screen, so I’ve got a pretty good perspective on all of them.  I’ll try and give you a rundown of my opinion of the best home theater screens.

Painted Wall Home Theater Screen

If you have a smooth wall, this is the cheapest option you can do.  It basically requires a quart or two of white paint (usually Behr Ultra White) and then adding a velvet border around the screen.  In order to this though, you need three things:

  1. a very smooth wall
  2. a lot of time
  3. a saw and stapler so you can do the velvet border

Even after all this, it’s still probably going to cost you $100 in materials and 5 to 10 hours worth of time, so it’s not totally free.  If you want to go super cheap you can ignore the border but it won’t look very good.  10 years ago, I would have recommended this for sure.  At this point though, I think there are better options for slightly more money and a lot less time and effort.

Low cost Home Theater Fabric Screen

10 years ago, cheap fabric home theater screens were either portable ones on a stand or DIY ones where you bought several hundred dollars in material and made your own screen.  Luckily, there’s now a lot better option, and it’s what I have in my home theater as well.

That option is made by Silver Ticket Products and is sold on Amazon.  I bought this 4 years ago for my home theater.  The Amazon affiliate link is below:

Silver Ticket Products 120″ screen at Amazon

I had a painted wall before this, and this is WAY better than a painted wall.  For the money, it just crushes the painted wall option.  I don’t think I’d ever do a painted wall again with this available to buy.

Before this came out, almost all the screens were $500 to $1000, which made it very hard to justify when a wall costs $100 and gets 80% of the way there.  This though gets 100% of the way there and costs only marginally more than the painted wall.

High priced Home Theater Fabric Screens

Once you get over $500, you get into what I like to call high priced home theater screens.  Maybe to some people this isn’t high priced, for someone like me who’s always looking for a bargain, this isn’t my category.  Usually the players in this category are like Stewart, Da-Lite, Elite Screens, and some others.

One of the most popular ones is one from Elite Screens below via my Amazon affiliate link:

Elite Screens Cinegray 5d

It has a tons of high reviews, so they must be doing something right.  Myself personally, I’d rather save the money for something else, but if you think about it you usually keep the same screen forever while the projector changes out every so often, so maybe it makes sense to spend more on a screen up front?

Conclusion

I don’t think you can really go wrong with any of the options.  A lot of people start off with the painted wall, then go to the cheaper screen, and then to the more expensive one.  I personally don’t see myself going off the cheaper screen because of how much I like it, but maybe someday something will come out that will make me change my mind.

Hopefully this guide has been helpful, and good luck in your search for the best home theater screen for your home.

Gran Board 3 now available

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For those of you who have been trying to find a Gran Board 2 in vain for the past year, relief is in site as the new Gran Board 3 has been released.  Evidently the reason the Gran Board 2 become so scarce is that they halted production on the 2 so they could ramp up production for the 3.  In any case, it’s now here, and you’re probably wondering “what are the differences”?  The Gran Board 2 was already the best online electronic dart board on the market in my opinion.

Gran Board 2 vs Gran Board 3

So first off, what are the differences between the 2 and the 3?  Well basically it appears like they took the Gran Board 2 and added LED capability to the board.  This video below does a really good job of showing the differences:

Basically, a lot of display effects around the outside and that’s about it.  They’re very cool, but if you’re a Gran Board 2 owner it’s probably not worth upgrading unless you really want the LED functionality or you have kids who would be a lot more amazed by it.

Where can you buy it?  Well luckily so far it doesn’t appear to have the same out of stock problems that the Gran Board 2 had over the past year.  It’s actually available now through my Amazon affiliate link below:

Gran Board 3 at Amazon

Since I have a Gran Board 2 and kids, I’m very on the fence about upgrading.  Since I just got the Gran Board 2 in December it’s a little early for me to be switching it out already.  🙂

If you haven’t seen my review of the Gran Board 2, it’s here:

Gran Board 2 review

Basically, it’s the best online dart board there is right now (well, until the 3 took its place).  I’ve had a ton of fun with it since I got it and my kids have too.  In fact they’ve about broken all of my darts, which is the next thing I need to invest in…good darts that don’t fall apart constantly.

Best Pinball Part Suppliers

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Firepower Pinball Machine with LED's
Firepower Pinball Machine with LED's

Anyone that’s owned a pinball machine knows that eventually something is break.  Whether it be a flipper, a rubber, a ramp, etc, at some point a part fails while you’re playing.  Heck even the balls get pitted after a while, you even need to replace them even if nothing else breaks.  For a lot of people though, finding out where to order stuff is tough.

I’ve put together a list here of the best places to order parts from my past 13 years of experience.  It’s purely my opinion, some other people may have totally different lists or opinions. Unfortunately, not one place is a central hub for all parts, most likely you’re going to have to use a bunch of these places depending on what breaks.  It’s not unusual for me to order from 3 or 4 different places when completely fixing up a game.  Without further ado, here’s the list.

Common Pinball Part Vendors

  1. Pinball Life.  This is the number one place I order parts from.  Cheaper than almost everyone for common parts, their only downfall is that they lack a lot of game specific parts.  So as long as the parts you need are just like rubbers, flippers, etc they’ll be the best, but if you need like a ramp for a game you’re likely going to have to order somewhere else.
  2. Marco Specialties.  They typically have the biggest assortment of parts for games.  Usually if I need a game specific part I check here first, then check somewhere else to see if I can get it cheaper.  They’re a good company, but I find that typically their prices are higher than everyone else on everything including shipping.  Sometimes they’ll surprise me with a good deal though.  They ship fast, probably faster than almost everyone else to their credit.
  3. Bay Area Amusements.  Like Marco, only they don’t have as many parts and have a way worse website.  You’ll notice this with a lot of pinball parts vendors, their websites are from like the early 2000’s.  They have a lot of game specific parts that I order, but I rarely order any common part, in part because it’s a pain to find.

LED Pinball Vendors

  1. Comet.  I know some people will say Cointaker and originally I would have said them too, but as they got bigger some of their competitors undercut them to a degree.  Comet is the major player who took some of their market share.  I order pretty much all my LED’s from Comet these days, high quality product at discount prices.
  2. Cointaker.  The biggest LED vendor (or at least they were at one point) they’ve expanded out to new game sales, shaker motors, etc.  Still offer some great game specific LED packages that are handy if you want to color match.  I’ve used a couple of their game specific kits and they were mostly good, only a couple places where either I had the wrong LED or the machine I was working on had a different socket/color for some reason.

Game Specific Pinball Parts

  1. Marco Specialties.  They’ve got the best overall selection for game specific parts, although usually they’re most expensive for that part as well.
  2. Bay Area Amusements.  Like Marco they’ve got a lot of specific parts for Williams, Bally, Data East, Sega, and Stern games.
  3. Pinball Resource.  For Gottlieb parts, this is basically your only choice as they hold the license.  It’s also like traveling back in time when you order from them.  Credit cards?  Won’t accept them.  Online ordering?  Nope.  It all works through phone or email ordering and they bill you.  They insist on part numbers, however, the part numbers aren’t readily available because you need the manual which they won’t allow digital copies of online, lol.  So you get into this chicken/egg scenario where you need parts but don’t have a manual to look them up.

Pinball Mod Vendors

  1. Mezel Mods.  They’re the official mod vendor for Stern and have made quite a business selling them.  They’ve really expanded their selection.
  2. Modfather Pinball.  They’ve also exploded onto the scene with their big selection.
  3. ColorDMD.  While not a mod vendor like the others, they sell the most popular mod in pinball, the ColorDMD screen that colorizes old pinball machines.
  4. Pinball Pro.  They make the best sound system for pinball machines in my opinion.  Some people favor Flipper Fidelity though.  I think that the bass is tighter with the pinball pro system.